By Diane Billas
I never used to tell people I was pansexual; it was just easier to say I was bi. Recently I’ve stopped this practice in favor of actually expressing how I identify. If I identify as pansexual, shouldn’t I be able to state that? And if someone doesn’t understand, it’s a good teaching opportunity. If they still don’t get it, that’s not on me.
It’s taken me a while to get to this point in my journey.
Like most people in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s been a bumpy ride to even admit that I’m a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I grew up in a small, conservative town where I never even met anyone that openly identified themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t have access to books with LGBTQ+ representation — all I ever heard were slurs from my classmates about people they thought might be “gay.” Basically, I learned that being gay, or anything different than straight, was bad.
In high school I dated a bunch of guys but none of the relationships were serious. There was always something off — I found out later I just wasn’t attracted to them. And then there were the days that I thought about one of my female friends in a ‘weird’ way, but I never could understand my feelings and why I wanted to be around her all the time, or why I would want her attention more than some of my other friends. I now realize that this was totally a crush, but back then, I just thought it was me wanting to be her friend.
In college, everything changed. I enrolled in a conservatory where I finally encountered many diverse individuals that identified all over the LGBTQ+ spectrum. In one of my classes, freshman year, a girl sitting next to me knocked over my textbook, and when I went to pick it up, she told me she only did that to get a good view of my backside. At first I was shocked, what was this? How could this be so out in the open? Later on, I noticed that there were many LGBTQ+ couples, and no one thought any differently of it, and I started to get more accustomed to the community.
That’s when I started to have my own awakening. I began noticing that there was something different when I looked at or interacted with some of the women that I thought were attractive.
But how could this be, I was straight, right?
It took until my third year of college that I finally came to the conclusion that I was not straight. I gathered up my courage and told my best friend about my realization, and she was so accepting of me. To this day, I am still thankful for her response to my news. The way she reacted to my secret helped me find the bravery to come out to more friends and even a few trusted family members.
It wasn’t until much later (only about four years ago) and after dating men, women, and someone identifying as non-binary that I realized that pansexual is a better fit to how I identify. I hadn’t even realized the term existed until a friend told me that’s how she identifies. I looked more into it and realized that I too identify that way. I am attracted to someone as a person. It doesn’t matter their gender or identify — the term pansexual feels right to me.
Pansexuality is not portrayed much in popular culture; the only reason someone might have heard of it is from Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, or a few other out pansexual celebrities. Even pansexual representation in movies and TV shows is basically non-existent, apart from David Rose in Schitt’s Creek. I’m hoping that changes in the future so pans like me can feel comfortable telling people that no, I don’t identify as bisexual, but as pan, and not get a glazed over look.
I plan on changing this narrative by introducing more pansexual characters into the world. I’m excited to announce that my young adult sapphic contemporary romance novel, Does Love Always Win?, will be published by Creative James Media on June 20, 2023. The main character’s love interest is pansexual.
I have a goal in every story that I create that at least one of the characters must be pansexual. The more common it is having someone identify as pansexual in popular culture, the more I believe the world can be accepting and understanding of all us pans.
Diane Billas currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband. When she’s not writing she can be found reading multiple books at once or dreaming of the next country she’s going to visit.
Does Love Always Win? is her debut novel, releasing June 20, 2023 from Creative James Media. This book was drawn from Diane’s personal experiences as a queer individual who has struggled throughout life being comfortable identifying and expressing herself. Diane wrote the book she wished was available to her when she was in high school. Does Love Always Win? is currently available to add on Goodreads and for pre-order April 2023.
Diane can be found on her website at https://dianebillas.com/, on Instagram @dianebillaswrites, or on Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok @dianebillas.